An (almost) live action documentary movie, this independent movie was produced by Nibariki (Miyazaki's personal office), with the royalty revenue from Nausicaä. At first, it was supposed to be an animated film which took place in the town of Yanagawa. After the success of Nausicaä, Tokuma wanted to produce another animated movie (of course, they wanted a Nausicaä sequel), and Miyazaki was looking for a good project. Miyazaki visited Yanagawa, and was impressed by the beautiful town with its canals, and came up with an idea for a film about high school boys and girls in Yanagawa, and thought that Takahata, who worked as a producer for Nausicaä, should direct such a film. However, when Takahata visited Yanagawa for research, he came to be more interested in the history of the town, especially how local people fought to preserve the canals which have been a part of the community for a long time, and how they put a great deal of effort to clean up the once polluted canals. As a result, it became a live action documentary, and Miyazaki decided to spend his own money on it. It took three years for Takahata to complete this film.